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Phil Skinner

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Tattoo for the New Year?

You want a tattoo? | What is a tattoo? | Needles! Won’t that hurt?
How is it done? | Get the design you want? | Keep it clean | What next?

Written by Phil Skinner.

You want a tattoo?
There are a few basic rules you should follow before getting any ink done.
IMPORTANT - once you’ve decided that you really want a tattoo, stop, think about it some more.

Be very sure you’ve picked a design you can live with for the rest of your life and be very, very sure you’ve picked the right location to have it done. Never go to a tattoist unless you have seen several examples of his work (preferably different styles on different people).

Always check out the premises, tattoo parlours traditionally look seedy - though that’s changing as skin art becomes trendier - make sure it’s clean and has proper sterilization facilities that are used.

If you’re not sure about anything ask, you may feel stupid - I did - if you don’t get satisfactory answers turn around and walk away.

Remember tattoo’s can be life changing for all the wrong reasons, most commonly a prominent tattoo could prevent you from getting or lose you a job, if this sort of predujice hasn’t occurred to you - you haven’t given tattooing nearly enough careful thought.


Dragon Tattoo

This is a traditional Japanese style dragon tattooed by Richard Pinch at Richard’s Tattoo Studio, Aberdeen.

It’s about 8” high x 6 ¾” wide and took just over 3 hours to complete (when someone’s poking needles into you 3 hours is a long time, a very long time).

What is a tattoo?
Put simply a tattoo is the introduction of coloured inks or pigments into the permanent layers of skin making a mark that will last the lifetime - and beyond. Tattoo’s can be removed, however the probability is removal will come at a higher price - physically - than the tattoo, never get a tattoo thinking ‘well I can always get rid of it later’.

The pigment is ‘injected’ into the skin in a simple manner; a sharp object is coated and pushed into the skin obviously leaving some colour behind. There are a number of traditional methods but most of the worlds tattooing is now done with an electric ‘gun’. The electric gun has been around for some time, and it’s a pretty simple implement. A rod inside a tube is attached by a linkage to a rocker that sits over two electro-magnets, the magnets switch on and off alternately and the rocker, well it rocks, moving the rod up and down at a fair rate of knots. A group of fine needles are attached to the bottom of the rod, the needles are dipped into the pigment and the up-down movement provides the force for the needle to pierce the skin.

Needles! Won’t that hurt?
Oh Yes. This is the biggie, the question asked more than any other, unfortunately it’s impossible to give a definitive answer. The amount of pain varies greatly for a number of reasons. Everyone is different, the way we react to pain varies greatly, and it also depends on how you feel (being excited and full of adrenaline as you get your first tattoo probably helps). The location has a large bearing on the pain. Generally the greater the muscle mass the less it will hurt, e.g. the upper arm on most people shouldn’t be to bad but the small of the back will be quite a different matter. But before you get discouraged remember - if it was that painful you’d see a lot of people walking around with half-finished tattoos.

Tribal Tattoo

New tribal style tattoo taken about 6 hours after being created. Coloured deep purple.

How is it done?
You go to the tattoo parlour and select the design you want. First your skin should be prepared, cleaning with an antiseptic and, where necessary, shaving. The tattooist will have a mirror image drawing of the outline of the tattoo on a carbon paper, which will be transferred onto your skin. The design may be done free hand - where the outline is drawn directly onto the skin The outline will normally be tattooed first, probably in black; the shading will then be done by filling in the outline in the required colours.

Get the design you want?
Most tattooists will be more than happy to create, or customize a design to meet your requirements. Don’t expect to take along a drawing and have it tattooed straight away. No matter what your artistic talent the things that make a good picture on paper and a good tattoo on your skin are different. Don’t be afraid to ask if you can’t find what you want from the existing designs.

Keep it clean
After completing the tattoo your skin should be cleaned again with antiseptic and a dressing applied. Your tattooist should advise you on caring for your tattoo while it heals (this is very important), expect something along the following lines. Leave the dressing on for 4 or 5 hours, carefully wash the tattoo around about 4 times over the first 24 hours and twice a day thereafter until it heals, after washing remember to dab dry very carefully. Obviously a scab will form over the tattoo; extreme care should be taken to ensure the scab is not disturbed in any way, as this will cause defects in the healed tattoo. Like most wounds, tattoo’s will generally start to itch as they heal, applying a small amount of a medicated skin cream should do the trick but don’t use it until the scab has formed and then only if really necessary. Keep your tattoo clean and dry until it is healed!

What next?
There it is, a brief introduction to tattooing. For some this is the end of the line, others will go on and get that tattoo they’ve been talking about for years, for some it never stops. Tattooing is strangely addictive (I originally intended to get two. Fourteen so far!), it’s the ultimate in a ‘no pain - no gain’ experience. There’s something ritualistic about the whole experience that I find difficult to explain without going ‘new age’ on you, if you want to understand about that side of things the only way is to get tattooed. If you’re stuck for local knowledge try asking. If you were looking for directions in a town you didn’t know you’d stop someone and ask. Try taking the same approach, if you see someone with a design you like ask them about it, you should at least find where they were tattooed which at gives you a starting point.

Hopefully I’ve covered most points of curiosity but if you have any specific questions you can email me at phils.hoose@ukgateway.net

Phils has done some in-depth product reviews of his riding gear.

Check them out...

FM F101Helmet | Swift Cabon-pro race gloves | CoolViZion visor inserts
Sirius Jeans | Tattoos | GSB Zoom Boots | Sportex Storm Gloves
Power Bronze Belly Pan

Phil Skinner